Sunday, May 24, 2015

NOT THE DAY PLANNED


So...I was at the farm yesterday and taking a break on the porch.  It had rained (imagine that!) and I had just unloaded some stuff from the car and was sitting on the rocker when 2nd Family's dog Blue came up to visit.  

He roamed around a bit and then wandered off into the yard as he often does.  I saw something out of the corner of my eye and noticed a pretty white and gray cat running across the driveway.  Within seconds, Blue was chasing and I saw the cat jump up onto the garden fence.  My immediate thought was 'OK, it will be safe up there', but Blue jumped up and grabbed the cat by it's back end.  In just a second, he pulled it off the fence and was shaking the cat back and forth in his mouth.  It was horrible to watch and took a couple of seconds for my mind to process what was happening. 

I screamed and ran toward them as he kept shaking and shaking it back and forth.  I twisted my ankle as I ran through the mud.  Suddenly he let go and he ran down the driveway and the cat ran into the brush around our tree.  I looked all around and couldn't find it, hoping that it got away.

About 20 minutes later though, I heard loud meowing.  I went over to the tree and the cat had come out of her hiding place and was laying on her side, dying, breathing her last breaths.  I knelt down and started petting her gently and telling her in a soothing voice that she was a good kitty as I began crying over a cat I didn't know.

She died within a couple of minutes.

I stood there stunned by the whole cycle of events.  I cried a little more (I'm like that when it comes to animals) and realized I can't leave this cat like this out in the open and I surely can't just toss it into the brush.  This is a stray that lived somewhere on the property but it still needed respect.  I went to the barn and got the shovel and found a high, slightly drier spot in the mini forest area and dug a hole.  I got some plastic and picked up the cat, put her into a curled up sleeping position and wrapped her up.  I placed her in the hole and filled it with potting soil we had and topped it off with the clay soil to kind of seal it up.   

I placed a rock on top so we'll remember she's there until I can figure out something more permanent...and cried a bit more.

Needless to say, that put a damper on the day and with impending rain, and everything else checked, I decided to come home.  2nd Man didn't come as planned because he needed to do some last minute work from home.  I'm grateful he didn't have to witness that.  This wasn't the day I had planned...

Image courtesy of gardeners.com
RIP kitty

I'll update the other moments of the day later.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

FLOODING THREAT

Back from the farm this afternoon, came back early and yes the "40%" got us, ha, but there was also some drama that I'll share tomorrow with an update.  Let's just say the day, sadly, didn't turn out as expected. Bees are fine, house is fine, this is animal drama that unfortunately I had to witness and then deal with the aftermath.

Speaking of weather, we just got this email alert that the city of Houston sends out to residents (who have signed up to receive them).  This will give you some idea of what we're expecting this weekend and why we didn't stay at the farm.  
Note the rainfall totals in the third paragraph down...
______________________________________________________
The National Weather Service (NWS) and Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) are saying that the potential for major Flash Flooding exists throughout the Houston area this weekend and into Memorial Day (Monday). 
The City of Houston is under a Flash Flood Watch. This means the conditions exist for thunderstorms to produce heavy rain very quickly, resulting in quickly-developing flooding in streets and waterways.
Heavy rain could start as soon as Saturday evening, with rainfall totals expected 2-5 inches in most areas Saturday evening, with the potential of 8-11 inches total Sunday and Monday.  Because the ground is already saturated, and rivers are running high due to recent rains, this will cause flooding in some areas.
Residents should take steps to limit their risk by making sure that they avoid streams, bayous, ditches, creeks and low-lying areas including roadways while this threat continues.
In addition, pay attention to local media, AlertHouston or official Emergency Social Media Channels for information. If you have a weather radio, switch it now to "Alert" mode.  It only take a couple of inches of moving water to sweep away a vehicle.  Remember to Turn Around, Don't Drown®. 
______________________________________________________

8 to 11 inches?  Are you kidding me?  Sigh.  

Side note, we use our smart phones and television so much that we hadn't really thought about it, be we don't even HAVE a weather radio!  
I think that will have to be a purchase we make soon.

We'll have to see what happens...fingers crossed!

OFF TO THE WET FARM


It has rained, almost daily, for weeks now.  We'll get a day or two off here and there, but it's pretty much rained some almost every day.  This week alone, we are closing in on 6 inches at the farm.  Thankfully, it's come slowly (mostly) and it has a chance to drain away before there is any major road flooding.  

Several rivers however (not near the farm, thankfully) have exceeded their banks and, sadly, flooded homes.  Today is supposed to be the day with the least chance of rain...


...A 40% chance.  But Sunday and Monday, for our long holiday weekend, are not even showing a % chance because it is going to just rain all day, both days.  In fact, we are being warned that flooding may be widespread.  So alas, we're not spending the night out there, thought we wanted to have a long weekend out there, but certainly don't want to get stuck out there if there are indeed flooded roads come Sunday/Monday.  It can and does flood out there...2nd Family was stranded for almost a week once when all the roads in and out were underwater.  We need to make it back to work Tuesday so we can keep our jobs and continue on our journey toward retirement out there, LOL.

So today is, most likely, the last chance to check things out at the farm before we get rained out.  Hopefully the driveway is passable, though my guess is it's muddy...I'll definitely be wearing the rubber boots!  

Checking on the bees is the first and main priority.  I didn't get to open the hive last weekend because it was sprinkling and it's not a good idea to let water get in the hive when the roof is off.  I'll put on the bee suit and get the smoker out and see how they are progressing.  It's good that they have plenty of fresh water to drink, I just hope they are producing brood (babies) and gathering pollen and of course, making honey!  We also have to make sure the house and surrounding property are OK after these storms.

More when we get back this evening...unless of course, we come back early because we got caught in the "40%".

Peace!

Friday, May 22, 2015

FRESH EGGS DAILY BOOK REVIEW

I have another great book to review:


While we don't have chickens yet, because we aren't there full time of course, that doesn't preclude planning.  Heck, we read books about beekeeping for a few years before we had bees, so it never hurts to increase our knowledge.




This is a smaller sized book but trust me when I say it is packed with lots of info and personally, I like smaller books, they don't seem so overwhelming.  This one is filled with beautiful photos, many from the author's own chicken yard (and she's got a beauty).  Flowers, greenery and chickens galore.  The pictures are great because they show, visually, exactly what she's talking about in the writing.  Lisa has a talented way of describing in great detail exactly what she shows in the pictures. 

Her philosophy is natural or holistic chicken keeping. This one stands apart from other chicken books.  And that's the part of the book we love most, the herbal recipes.  Wow, this is one of the best books I've ever read for really hard to find information about herbs for your hens, how to treat for various ailments using herbs, what they like to eat.  It's a great book to start your chickens out right.  It covers a lot of the basics of chicken care, and I think it works well for a first timer.
Fresh Eggs Daily....CLICK HERE TO VIEW HER BLOG

Please visit her website linked above.  Her blog is a wealth of information on hens and egg laying.  Lots of great information.  One thing for sure after reading this book...WE WANT CHICKENS!!!!  Alas we still have to wait but we'll definitely know how to start the ladies out right from the very beginning. 

You can also purchase the book here via Amazon: 
Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens...Naturally

This book is published by a new favorite publishing company called St. Lynn's Press.  They have a wide variety of books in the gardening, self sufficiency, and slow and local lifestyles topics.  In my interaction with them, I found them to be kind, easy to work with and just all around wonderful.  A great, small publishing company worthy of supporting.

Thank you of course to St. Lynn's Press for providing this book to review, and thank you Lisa Steele for getting us even more prepared for the day when laying hens will rule the roost at Seda Bolsa Farm!



Thursday, May 21, 2015

FLOWER GARDEN, INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Coneflower garden, image courtesy of www.hgtvgardens.com
We needed to see some color and bright light today.  We have had three days of rain this week and more coming today.  Coming up on 8 inches at the farm.  Because of our gray and rainy days, I wanted to post something colorful and vibrant and potentially doable at the farm...these are coneflowers and I believe they will do well down in these parts.  I'd like to find a place for something like this, if we ever see the sun again, ha.  

Hope you are having a good week!

Be inspired!


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

LOVE A CLEARANCE SALE


Was at Kroger (grocery store) yesterday at lunch and they had these on clearance.  When we originally saw them, they were way overpriced (but we still liked them).  But now, this large platter was $24, lowered to $8, and then lowered to $4.

This large bowl will be great for salads/pasta, it's wide and shallow.  This one was originally $28, lowered to $9 and then lowered to $4.50.  They definitely have a nice 'farmhouse vibe' to them, with a French twist. 

Have you had any good bargain finds lately?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

MORE CURTAIN DOORS UP

Rainy/muddy day meant we were able to get an inside thing done and scratched off the list of THINGS TO DO.

These were the last two curtain doors left in the house.  I blogged HERE about them when we first put them up in the doorways in the living room to one bedroom and in the kitchen to the guest room.  Later on, we put one between the foyer and living room and between the living room and kitchen.  They have been such a perfect solution that we thought we should 'finish' the house with the rest and get them before, with our luck, they discontinue the brand (isn't that the way it always works? LOL).



We still had two doorways left to do.  This is the one from the kitchen into the dining room and in the background you can see the doorway into the mudroom.  The curtains are heavy enough that we need a stronger tension rod.



Once we got that up, it's just a matter of putting the curtains on the rods.  We like these curtains because they have the large, grommeted openings so that they slide back and forth very easily.
Using curtains as doors
Here is the view from the dining room after they were up.  To the left is the kitchen doorway and to the right is the mudroom.  

While we don't leave the curtain doors in the house closed all the time, the nice thing about them is that they allow us to keep rooms cool/warm as needed without worry.  For example, during freezes in the Winter, we can keep a small heater in the mudroom, close off the doorway and keep it warm in there.  Or when we are there and it's cold, no point in heating rooms we aren't in.  In the heat of Summer, 2nd Man can close off the kitchen and keep the cool air in there instead of cooling the dining room where no one will be.  They also have a way of softening the rooms and making them more cozy, if that makes sense.

At least we have another small project scratched off the list.

Monday, May 18, 2015

HONEYBEE DIE OFF INCREASING

My boss came in to my office the other day and handed me an article from the Wall Street Journal...he knows (and is so excited) about our beekeeping journey and wanted to make sure I saw the article (he's pretty wonderful like that).


This story is getting somewhat reported in the media but, in my opinion, not widely enough.  We don’t really need to know if Kim Kardashian is having another baby or that Taylor Swift has another hit song.  What we need to know is what is causing this massive bee die off and, more importantly, what can the world do to help reverse it.

The headlines alone are frightening (click any/all of these for articles):

"Sharp Spike in Honeybee Deaths Deepens a Worrisome Trend" 

"Honeybee Crisis Worsens as Summer Die-Offs Mount"


In one year, April 2014 – April 2015, beekeepers reported that more than FORTY PERCENT of their United States honeybee colonies died off.  
Think about that for a minute…

What if 40% of cattle died in one year? 
Or 40% of fresh fish disappeared?
Or even 40% of corn or wheat wilted away?

They would most likely be the top stories on the news outlets.  Alas, bees still don't get the coverage they deserve.  Oh sure, the story is around and it does get more traction than it used to, but still not so much in the mainstream press, where it should be...not as much as should be warranted in this situation.


"What we're seeing with this bee problem is just a loud signal that there's some bad things happening with our agro-ecosystems," co-author Keith Delaplane says.  "We just happen to notice it with the honeybee because they are so easy to count."

Our first two beehives
They say that home and/or amateur beekeepers may be the best hope to at least maintain bee colony populations.  Home apiarists are usually less likely to be using the chemicals elsewhere in the yard that are harmful to bees, more likely to be checking them regularly and better ready to treat problems before they overwhelm the hive.  Plus, they create healthier and stronger varieties of bees.  We are hoping we can do at least a small part to help.  

GO BEES!

Update: Marcia was kind enough to post this link just announced today.  It's the first ever
 National Initiative to Promote the Health of Honeybees